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Monday, 27 January 2014 15:15

France: Interview with Joanna Lagrave (NF '14)

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It has always been a pleasure to speak to artists competing in national finals across Europe and therefore, this year will not be any different, even more for the simple reason that local songwriters are entering foreign selection procedures. We have recently caught up with Joanna, one (1) of three (3) acts competing to represent France in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Ma Liberté written by Philip Vella, Gerard James Borg, Sean Vella and Yann Guillon.

In 2013, Amandine Bourgeois represented France with L’Enfer et Moi, mustering only fourteen (14) points to finish in twenty-third (23rd) place at the end of the voting. This kept in line with the disappointing results that the nation has achieved in recent years, despite enlisting notable names such as Amaury Vassili and Anggun, who in turn represent different genres. What would you bring to the competition that would make you stand out?

I will try to be myself, without thinking about what people think because of the past. The most important thing when I'm on stage in every circumstance is, to respect people in being honest in my interpretation. The first thing, if I go to Copenhagen, is to satisfy my country, even if I don't win, I want them to be proud to have chosen me.  

Ma Liberté, the song which you hope to represent France with in this years’ edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is co-composed by Philip Vella, Gerard James Borg and Sean Vella with French lyrics by Yann Guillon and English lyrics by Gerard James Borg. How did you come in contact with the songwriters and how would you describe your entry?

I was listening to some songs for my album, when I heard Ma Liberté and I felt like it was my own song. It was like I could have written in myself because it was full of emotion – the very same strong emotions I would describe in music and lyrics.

When my manager saw my reaction in listening to the song, he decided to present it for the national contest. And it was a really beautiful and welcome surprise for me to be chosen as a finalist for France. 

Without a shadow of doubt, the local audience are familiar with three (3) of those four (4) individuals but nevertheless, Yann Guillon is an extremely respected songwriter in France having previously worked with Emmanuel Moire whose most recent album Le Chemin peaked at number #1 in the official chart. How does it feel to have such an opportunity and will this be the start of an extended collaboration?

I would be so honoured and happy to work with him on other songs. He understood who I was, and he uses words like I would listen to a French song, it's pure and honest. It's really difficult for me to write in french so I'm really admiring Yann Guillon he's a really talented man.

This marks the first time in seven (7) years that France is hosting a public selection process, and your entry Ma Liberté is up against another two (2) entries, one entitled Moustache and the other one being Sans Toi. How does it feel to have been selected by the professional jury as one of the finalists and what do you think of the other songs in contention?

It makes me happy and I'm really motivated to show French people I'm able to go to Copenhagen. I don't like to be in competition, not because it's a lot of stress, but because when there's competition there's negativity. The other songs are pretty different to what I do and it's good. Because French people will be free to choose which kind of image and music they want to be represented by.

Natasha St-Pier, a French-Canadian recording artist who had the opportunity to represent France at the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2001 with the song Je Ne Que Mon Âme  has decided to publically support your participation on behalf of the nation. Having such a magnificient artist throw her weight of music experience behind you must be an honour and a burden at the same time. How do you view such support, and were you surprised?

I'm really happy to see her supporting me publicly. I was really surprised because I didn't expect her support my song before the diffusion of the show on Sunday 26th January. It's very good but I have to convince everyone else now! :)

Would you like to say anything to our readers at And what can our readers - who have read this article and would like to support you and your song in France – do?

I want to say thank you to those who are supporting me. And I invite them to go on France 3 web site, and vote Ma Liberte’ (Song number 2) if they like it and if they want me to go in the Eurovision finale. ( Thank you very much and I hope to see you in Copenhagen. A big hug and kiss to sunny Malta! xxxxx  Thanks for your support! I truly appreciate.

Last modified on Monday, 27 January 2014 15:39